Chris Berman traveled to the West Coast this week for interviews with the 49ers offensive line in San Francisco and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in Seattle. Both conversations will be featured on ESPN’s three-hour Sunday NFL Countdown (Sunday, Jan. 19, 12 p.m. ET), which will preview the NFC and AFC Conference Championship games.
ESPN’s overall coverage of Conference Championship weekend will begin Friday, Jan. 17, with NFL Insiders at 3 p.m., and reporters are assigned to cover each of the four remaining teams in the NFL Playoffs for SportsCenter, Sunday Night Countdown and other news and information programs:
ESPN’s Weekend NFL-Themed Programming:
|Fri, Jan 17||3 p.m.||NFL Insiders
Suzy Kolber, Adam Caplan, Chris Mortensen and Louis Riddick
|4 p.m.||NFL Live
Trey Wingo, Tedy Bruschi and Mark Schlereth
|7 p.m.||NFL Featured – Russell Wilson||ESPN2
(Sat: 8 a.m. and Sun: 10 a.m.)
|8 p.m.||NFL Kickoff
Wingo, Hoge and Schlereth
|Sat, Jan 18||7 a.m.||E:60 – Navorro Bowman||ESPN2|
|7:30 a.m.||NFL Films – Candlestick Memories||ESPN2|
|Sun, Jan 19||6:30 a.m.||NFL Matchup
Sal Paolantonio, Merril Hoge and Ron Jaworski
(ESPN2, 7:30 a.m.)
|8 a.m.||Outside the Lines
(ESPNEWS, 9 a.m.)
|12 p.m.||Sunday NFL Countdown
Chris Berman, Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Jaworski, Keyshawn Johnson, Mortensen and Adam Schefter
|11 p.m.||NFL PrimeTime
Berman, Trent Dilfer and Tom Jackson
Sunday NFL Countdown Features:
· Conversations with Chris Berman: Berman interviews the 49ers offensive line in San Francisco and quarterback Russell Wilson in Seattle in advance of the NFC Championship clash between division rivals.
· Brady-Manning, The Beginning: Vignettes with memories from parents and close family members of young Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, as well as insights on how they each fell in love with football.
· Best of SNL: Best moments from Brady and Manning’s appearances as Saturday Night Live hosts.
· Brady-Manning’s Center: Dan Koppen (currently on injured reserve) was Brady’s center for nine seasons and Manning’s last year. He discusses the quarterbacks’ similarities and differences.
· Pick 6s: Ty Law, the only player in NFL history to get a ‘pick 6’ against both Brady and Manning, relives each of his interceptions against the quarterbacks and tells the story of how they both cornered him afterwards and inquired how he was able to read their plays.
· Raising The Flag: The ritual of raising the “12th Man” flag at CenturyLink Field by a Seattle celebrity or former Seahawks player has become a pregame tradition for the franchise and its fans – a tribute to one of the most passionate and loudest fan bases in the NFL. Chris Connelly reports on the origin and purpose of the tradition, and how the act is replicated by Seahawks fans around the world, including soldiers in Afghanistan.
· Omaha! Omaha!: Manning’s pre-snap audible calls – “Omaha! Omaha!” – last Sunday made Nebraska’s largest city a trending topic on Twitter during the game. The city’s tourism board entered the fray with a tweet thanking the Denver quarterback. Countdown essayist Rick Reilly visits Omaha to explore how Manning and the Broncos are helping to boost the city’s profile.
· Blue-Collar Rob Ninkovich: ESPN.com’s Greg Garber reports on where Patriots defensive captain Rob Ninkovich acquired the blue-collar style that reminds many of past Patriot linebackers.
· “We’re Going to the Super Bowl”: One of the most exciting moments in a football player’s career is when he finally realizes he is going to the Super Bowl. From the Cowboys in the 1990s, through Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s Patriots, to Ray Lewis and the Ravens last year, DJ Porter spins the emotional audio and celebrations from the last 20 championship game winners.
NFL Featured: Russell Wilson
The one-hour NFL Featured: Russell Wilson special (Fri., Jan. 17, 7 p.m. ESPN2) is a compilation of ESPN features and interviews on the Seattle Seahawks All-Pro quarterback. In addition to highlighting Wilson’s success on the field, the program offers a more personal, in-depth look at the man and the positive impact he’s had on Seahawks fans and others. SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne, a native of Kent, Wash., hosts while taking viewers on a video tour of Seattle. (Re-airs: Saturday, Jan. 18: 8 a.m. ET and Sunday: Jan. 19, 10 a.m.) More.
Stories that will be part of NFL Featured: Russell Wilson:
· Depth Chart – All Access as Wilson battles for the Wisconsin quarterback job in 2011.
· Fights On – Wilson recounts his father’s death, which occurred while Wilson was still at N.C. State
· Gruden QB Camp – MNF’s Jon Gruden meet with Wilson before the 2012 NFL Draft
· Russell Wilson’s Hat – Wilson and his wife actually draft the Seahawks BEFORE they draft him
· Keith Price – Wilson reaches out to the University of Washington quarterback to mentor him
· Pump Fakes – an analytic breakdown of one of Wilson’s strongest attributes
· Russell Wilson’s wallet – a young girl in need of a heart transplant makes a stylish wallet, made out of duct tape, for Wilson
· Face-to-Face – Hannah Storm spends some quality time away from the field with Wilson and his wife, Ashton
· My Wish – Wilson and the Seahawks entertain a young, ill Seahawks fan and his family
E:60: NaVorro Bowman
After NaVorro Bowman learned of a family secret and the passing of his biological father he never knew and the father that raised him within months of each other, the 49ers linebacker embarked on a personal journey to discover his family and himself. ESPN.com senior writer Jeffri Chadiha tells an extended version of the E:60 exclusive story on Bowman’s search for the truth.
Outside the Lines:
Bob Ley hosts as OTL looks back at Peyton Manning’s ups and downs leading to one of the biggest moments of his NFL career: Sunday’s match-up against rival Tom Brady and the Patriots.
· Coaches Clicker: Merril Hoge shows how the Patriots successfully executed their run game against the Colts by using speed-back Stevan Ridley or power-back LeGarrette Blount on different plays.
· Between the Lines: Ron Jaworski, using the telestrator, projects how the effective Patriots run game will eventually open up the unreliable Denver Broncos secondary on hard-run action passes.
· Hoge Breakdown: After reviewing game film from their week 12 meeting, Hoge breaks down a play where the New England defense dropped eight into coverage and rushed on three defenders, forcing Peyton Manning to check into a run play.
· The Film Room: Jaworski shows how the Patriots defense had success with “two-man” coverage in their regular season game.
· Factor Back: Hoge explains how Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch has been successful running the ball in formations with three wide receivers on the field.
· The Money Down: Jaworski shows how the 49ers defense has been spectacular on third downs, particularly their front seven, using different stunts and linebackers with outstanding speed to the football.
· X and O Files: Hoge breaks down how the Seahawks defense line play has been excellent in their two regular season meetings versus the 49ers run game and shows what they do to win the battle at the line of scrimmage.
· Jaws Playbook: Jaworski goes to the playbook and identifies how the 49ers receiving core would exploit the Seahawks defensive unit, especially when cornerback Byron Maxwell is playing press man coverage.
· Inside the Matchup: Jaworski shows the Seahawks defense in a three-deep shell and explains how the formation will be successful against 49ers leading receiver Anquan Boldin.
Extensive ESPN.com Coverage of NFL Conference Championships
ESPN.com and ESPN Boston will dispatch multiple columnists and team reporters to the conference championship games on Sunday:
· ESPN.com NFL Nation reporters Terry Blount and Bill Williamson, NFL senior writer John Clayton, NFL columnist Ashley Fox and Insider writer Mike Sando will cover 49ers at Seahawks.
· NFL Nation reporters Jeff Legwold and Mike Reiss, senior writers Elizabeth Merrill and Jeffri Chadiha and ESPN Boston columnist Jackie MacMullan will cover Patriots at Broncos.
ESPN.com’s NFL Nation staff of 32 team reporters conducted interviews with more than 320 players over a six-week period in November and December for its “NFL Nation Confidential” series, which launched Jan. 9. The anonymous survey asked NFL players to answer a wide range of questions. On Thursday, NFL Nation unveiled Peyton Manning as the “Most Respected Player in the NFL.” More survey results will be released leading up to the Super Bowl.
Jeff Saturday Conference Call Replay
On Thursday, ESPN NFL analyst Jeff Saturday, a six-time Pro Bowl center who was a teammate of Peyton Manning for 12 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, participated in media conference call to preview the Championship games. Full audio replay.
ESPN2 to Televise NFLPA Collegiate Bowl on Saturday
ESPN2 will televise the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Presented by Panini on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 6 p.m. from Carson, Calif. The event showcases college football players who are eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. Dave Flemming will serve as play-by-play with analysts Todd McShay and Bill Polian and reporter Quint Kessenich.
The player roster includes South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw and Southern Miss running back Khyri Thornton. Former NFL coaches Dick Vermeil and Dennis Green will coach the National and American teams, respectively.
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